FRANCE: Plans for the progressive introduction of competitive tendering in the regional passenger market have been confirmed by the government, and the proposals will be included in transport legislation due to be published in the first half of 2018.

The organisation which represents the regions of France has told the government that it is ready to set the terms and conditions for competitive tendering of regional rail services ahead of the 2023 deadline for market opening. Régions de France says that some regions have already begun preparations, which include making arrangements that would permit the regions to put some TER services out to competitive tender as soon as the legislation takes effect, possibly before expiry of direct award contracts with SNCF Mobilités. The move follows a series of hearings to identify the practical requirements of market opening which began in April. The hearings involved potential bidders, infrastructure manager SNCF Réseau, SNCF’s station management business Gares et Connexions, trade union representatives and regulatory bodies Arafer and EPSF, as well as passenger user groups.